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Power Earth

Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly 461

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the now-imagine-if-solar-and-nuclear-worked-together dept.
assertation (1255714) writes with this interesting tidbit from Reuters about the state of solar power in Germany: German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour — equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity — through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said. The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022.
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Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly

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  • Winter is coming (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:36AM (#47315399)

    Would be more impressive in February.

  • Gigawatts per hour (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AvitarX (172628) <me.brandywinehundred@org> on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:36AM (#47315409) Journal

    Amazing, in 24 hours it'll be 528 gigawatts, amazing ramp up of production.

  • Gigawatts per hour (Score:5, Insightful)

    by enriquevagu (1026480) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:44AM (#47315523)

    Note that gigawatts are power units; gigawattshour are energy units and gigawatts per hour is wrong and misleading. I would expect that the editor would correct such basic mistakes, even tough they come from the linked article.

  • by alexander_686 (957440) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:44AM (#47315529)

    Is it a good sign? Why? It is my understanding that Germany has passed the point where solar makes any sense.

    Solar tends to be expensive in relation to other electrical sources. The only reason why German has so much solar is because of expensive subsides from the government - which I would argue could be spent better on improving the efficiencies on the user side..

    Also, adding more solar won't cut down on C02 emissions. Solar power is variable and in Germany is backstopped by coal power plants. Coal power plants in standby mode still chomp though a fair bit of coal, so adding more solar is not going to help there.

    Of course, all of what I am saying is based on how things are today. I hope and believe that tomorrow's technology will address these issues. But for today..

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:46AM (#47315547) Homepage Journal

    Is there a point to this post, exactly? I mean, I get the capacity variation is both a real concern and a common kind of FUD regarding solar, but this data point isn't about that.

    It's about how rapidly a changeover in energy production to sustainable can occur. Germany was one of the world's biggest nuclear energy producers(France being the leader of that pack), and they've gone from that to one of the biggest solar producers in only a year or so.

    With a really large economy, without losing much GDP. The point that's being demonstrated is that a power infrastructure changeover can be done without sacrificing being a first world nation along the way.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:46AM (#47315553)

    It wasn't nearly half of the POWER used in Germany at that moment. It was, for a moment, about half of the public ELECTRIC grid, in a country where electric is unpopular because it's becoming outrageously expensive. Most of the power used in Germany is not from the public electricity grid.

    Here's a thought experiment:
    Germany could shut off all of their generators, so there is no electricity on the public grid.
    They could then attach a single 9-volt battery to the grid, so the only power on the grid would be a few watts from that little battery. The headline could then be:
    100% of German electricity provided by one 9-volt battery!

    What Germany has actually done is simply a less extreme case of the thought experiment. They've shut down generators, so less power is available. It's not that solar is providing the needed power, the power simply isn't available like it used to be. By supply and demand, as well as tariffs, electricity has become far more expensive, so people have turned more and more to other sources of energy. You won't see a lot of people driving electric cars in Germany because the cost to charge them makes it prohibitive.

  • by Catbeller (118204) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:54AM (#47315671) Homepage

    It seems Germany is leading the way in showing, by example, that every bit of American futzing about solar power and unions is, to put it down hard, a load of cultish crap designed to make rich people much richer.
    They are an economic powerhouse with strong exports, a union-based worker's economy, and now they've shown you can run 50% of an industrial economy off the power of the sun, in something less than ten-twenty years. WHILE they absorbed a pauperized East Germany after the Soviets finally gave up. Oh yep - they innovate like mad. With health care for everyone.
    Randites, avoiding the No True Scottman fallacy, examine why you are wrong on this. Seriously, before your wreck us beyond repair.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:57AM (#47315701)

    "Expensive" is very different from "too expensive". Some countries (probably most of them other than America) value things other than money. Things like "not risking dying from radiation sickness" and "not poisoning the world for future generations" are often high on that list.

    I'm actually quite pro-nuclear, but I'm even more for safer, renewable sources. Nuclear is a stopgap, and if we can push enough research to improve alternative technologies (which is starting to happen "thanks" to things like Fukushima) and just leapfrog it that would be great. Even if it's expensive.

  • by ZeroPly (881915) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:14AM (#47315915)
    We have more than enough people telling us how difficult things are and how we shouldn't try - yours is just another voice in that cacophony.

    What we need are people who tell us how to make it work. Nuclear plants might be necessary for a very long time, but they should be secondary to renewable sources.
  • by alexander_686 (957440) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:16AM (#47315933)

    No, expensive is expensive when there are cheaper and better options available.

    If I can cut a ton of carbon emissions by switching to solar for a $40 subsidy or by adding insulation to an attic for $20 why chose the more expensive option? Why not opt for more wind power or more efficient appliances? I have found that many Greens focus on feel good actions instead of focusing on the cold hard results. Actions (and money) is spent on nice sounding projects with mushy ill-defined goals and measurements.

    In particular, why spend money subsidizing solar if adding more solar is not going to reduce carbon emissions or other issues with coal? Now you are just burring money for no good reasons. In Germany's case, it implies that money needs to be spent in other areas such as upgrading the power grid to efficiently use the solar and wind power that they already currently have.

    This is one of the reasons why I advocate a carbon tax. Or, if you have a different concern, tax & regulate that.

  • by jittles (1613415) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:23AM (#47316013)

    It seems Germany is leading the way in showing, by example, that every bit of American futzing about solar power and unions is, to put it down hard, a load of cultish crap designed to make rich people much richer. They are an economic powerhouse with strong exports, a union-based worker's economy, and now they've shown you can run 50% of an industrial economy off the power of the sun, in something less than ten-twenty years. WHILE they absorbed a pauperized East Germany after the Soviets finally gave up. Oh yep - they innovate like mad. With health care for everyone. Randites, avoiding the No True Scottman fallacy, examine why you are wrong on this. Seriously, before your wreck us beyond repair.

    Uhh you understand that this was over a holiday weekend (3 day weekend) and that they were only briefly meeting that demand on an especially sunny afternoon? Germany has a lot of cool and cloudy weather. I spent almost a month of June 2013 in Germany and it was cloudy and cold 70% of the time.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @12:17PM (#47316517)

    "Expensive" is very different from "too expensive". Some countries (probably most of them other than America) value things other than money. Things like "not risking dying from radiation sickness"

    This risk is blown up so much as to be comical.

    There are probably more people who die every year from falling off of roofs while installing solar panels, than get sick yearly from radiation.

    If you total the number of people, all time, who have died in nuclear power incidents-- including post-exposure deaths-- you probably wouldnt break 10,000. Excluding Chernobyl, I dont think theres been a single death (actual or projected) from nuclear power-- certainly none in the last 20 years.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @12:23PM (#47316563)

    We have more than enough people telling us how difficult things are and how we shouldn't try - yours is just another voice in that cacophony.

    I think hes explaining why its dumb to rely on solar in a fairly northern, cloudy country when there are so many better options.

    And Im not seeing the categorical difference between his post and yours, in terms of naysaying-- you're naysaying nuclear as a long term option-- except that he gives good reasons for his opinions. You're simply stating that nuclear is a bad option, with no real reasoning applied

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @01:13PM (#47317137)

    You may be setting your heat lower than adjacent apartments, therefore receiving their heat and costing them more! I did this myself for two years when I got my first apartment. I had a small apartment with other apartments on all sides. It never got below 45 even on the coldest days. I'd bring a small space heater between rooms and only turned it on when I was freezing. I used heavy blankets on the couch and the bed. When I got my own home I tried the same thing, but since I had no heated adjacent spaces my pipes froze and cost me a mint in repairs.

  • by Sibko (1036168) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @01:30PM (#47317319)
    Are you fucking kidding me?
    "Nuclear is a stopgap" and "not poisoning the world for future generations"?

    You know how many people have died over the past 60-odd years from radiation poisoning? Direct deaths, including incidents like assassinations and laboratory accidents? 10,000, maybe? Nope. 5000? Nigga we ain't even close yet. 1000? Keep going. 500? Hahaha, get real buddy.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Over 60 years of nuclear power and widespread use of radioactive material and there are less than 400 (estimate 200-300) deaths from direct radiation exposure. You can bump it up to ~10,000-20,000 when you include estimates on cancer related deaths. But you know what? If we're going to count cancer related deaths for nuclear, then how about we count pollution related deaths for coal, oil and gas?

    Think you can guess? Maybe 100,000 per year?
    Try 7 million: http://www.who.int/mediacentre... [who.int]

    Even if you went batshit crazy with estimating nuclear's impact - with crazy greenpeace numbers like a million deaths that they pull out of their collective asses. You still come NOWHERE NEAR coal, oil or gas. In fact, by metrics like amount of power produced per death, Nuclear is the safest we have available. Nothing else beats it, including Solar, Wind and Hydro.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/ja... [forbes.com]
    http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/... [nextbigfuture.com]
    http://motherboard.vice.com/en... [vice.com]

    Enough with your bullshit FUD. There is nothing wrong with, and there has never been anything wrong with Nuclear. All the facts are stacked against you and all you've brought against it are lies and bullshit fearmongering to convince people who are ignorant of what the nuclear statistics actually look like. I'm fucking sick and tired of you anti-nuclear liars. All you do is help ensure we keep guzzling oil, coal and gas. I don't think the oil industries could've gotten better shills if they paid for them.
  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @02:11PM (#47317679)
    Remarkable that they had the wisdom to replace zero-emission nuclear power with a dozen new gigantic coal plants, including several that burn brown coal? Congratulations, welcome to the 18th century! While the greenhouse emissions from the USA are falling like a rock in the last 5 years, Germany's CO2 output is spiking upwards and reaches record levels every year. And for all this, Germans have to pay some of the highest electricity costs in Europe. I'm not saying that Germany can't eventually get their act together, but to me it looks like they're off to a very bad start.
  • by golodh (893453) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @02:20PM (#47317765)
    As always there are other considerations apart from purely economical ones. In Germany they are given weight while in the US their weight is often set at zero until there is a crisis.

    There's a big difference between the US and Germany: the US has an awful lot of territory, so it can afford to waste and pollute large tracts of it (which it still does on a regular basis), yet have sufficient clean land for other purposes. Germany is a lot smaller and more densely populated, and it has to exercise a lot more caution with its environment than the US

    Besides which, Europe as a whole seems to import 33% of its oil and 48% of its gas from Russia. Now consider that Russia seems to be sponsoring environmental groups in Europe that oppose fracking. Why would that be, you think?

    Given Russia's showdown with the Ukraina (annexing the Crimea and turning the screws on by jacking up the price of natural gas) and Putin's determination to err ... restore Russia's political clout and former "glory", wouldn't you do your level best to try and worm your way out of energy dependence on Russia? The Germans seem to be doing exactly that.

    In other news ... China is busily overtaking the US as largest economy, and it has no oil, no gas, but loads of coal. It's also the world's manufacturing hub. And then there's India growing steadily. Population growth in Asia is still massive (in absolute terms) and its prosperity is steadily rising. With that inevitably comes an increased energy footprint.

    I believe than in the coming 10-20 years energy prices will be determined by what happens in Asia, not in the US or Europe. And the only way I see oil prices go in that period is up. Way up. Solar seems to be a pretty solid investment from that point of view.

    So on balance I'd say that Germany's investment in solar energy is not a stupid move and should probably continue.

  • by UrsaMajor987 (3604759) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @02:26PM (#47317829)
    Another side benefit is becoming less dependent on natural gas (from Russia). Imagine if a significant amount of our energy came from a source that Putin controlled.
  • by mxs (42717) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @04:19PM (#47318863)

    Just because you do not understand the potential for disaster from nuclear power generation and think you have a grasp on rudimentary statistics, you are not automatically right and we are not automatically liars.

    It's awesome and safe in theory. In practice, it's f'n dangerous. If you get a chance, go visit some of the plants running 30, 40, 50 years now and get a feel for the upkeep, the staffing, and the safety procedures. It's all been made very ... "efficient" ...
    Even for newer plants you get to deal with shoddy workmanship and lackluster oversight, plus idiotic f'ers who build those things on bloody fault lines. BLOODY F'N FAULT LINES.

    And you have the unsolved disposal issue.

    While I would love it if we, as a species, were able to harness the power of splitting the atom safely, alas, we are not. Some of us just think we are. Usually the same maniacs that don't believe we can change the climate, either.

  • by jez9999 (618189) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @06:31PM (#47319925) Homepage Journal

    Why do we need to cover the risk of Fukushima-style accidents when we're NOT BUILDING 50-YEAR-OLD NUCLEAR PLANTS??

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